Newcastle United and the seven year lesson
Bear with me a moment and allow me to paint you a picture, it is 2009, and Newcastle United have just spent money on Kevin Nolan and Ryan Taylor in the January transfer window as well as a center forward for free, from Germany.
This is after a summer where the board had spent big on the players to take Newcastle back into Europe and push the club forward; Xisco, Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez and Danny Guthrie joined the fold. The fold which already included Michael Owen, England’s number 9, amongst other big recent signings for serious fees such as Alan Smith, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique.
The club had recently flirted with relegation zone under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce, before a selection of questionable managerial appointments followed, starting with the reappointment of Kevin Keegan.
Keegan’s subsequent resignation meant the job was given to a man who had not managed for 4 years after being sacked by Nottingham Forest. That man was Joe Kinnear, who had been dismissed following a poor run of form in The Championship where hopes had changed from play-offs to survival – Forest had gone from 14th to 22nd in the league between August and December. Following a long struggle and another change of manager, Newcastle United were relegated following a predictably dispiriting one nil defeat at Aston Villa.
Come back with me to 2016 and Newcastle United have spent two transfer windows investing heavily in the playing squad after appointing a new manager following a final day relegation escape. £80m to be precise, and the new signings were intended to herald a new era for the club – battling for silverware. The relegation zone wasn’t supposed to be on the horizon, yet here we are again and the same mistakes are being made again too. Sound familiar?
The same owner, the same situation. Lessons haven’t been learned except this time around it seems worse. The ‘transfer committee’ which pushed Keegan away aren’t responsible for the signings anymore, the manager who has been placed on the board is responsible for them. This is of course alongside the man who has repeatedly failed to identify talent since he had a lucky year following the sale of Andy Carroll and players such as Yohan Cabaye were purchased.
Still in the here and now, I remember thinking in August that Villa would have to go down this season. A few seasons of poor performance and just about staying up, coupled with a lack of investment, can only lead to one thing – Failure.
It appears that whilst Villa haven’t learned lessons from their recent past, we too have failed to learn from ours. The problems we have wont be solved by throwing money at them, despite the fact I was (foolishly) optimistic this time around.
As a side note, I wanted Townsend and Shelvey. I also wanted a left back and a center back. Greedy? Anyway, the problems will be solved by getting the right people, for the right job, at the right cost. At present, only the latter seems to mean anything.
Let’s start with Graham Carr.
He’s underperformed for the last 4 seasons in my view. He needs to go and be adequately replaced. The management and coaching team is all new this season, but they were employed by people (Ashley and Charnley) who have put the most reasonable financial option into that post, rather than the right men for the job. On the basis that Ashley won’t sack himself or walk away, he should sack his closest advisor and send Charnley on his way.
I don’t hold the manager too responsible at this moment in time for our overall struggles. By that I mean the years of mistakes. Our current league position however is almost entirely his doing. Following a failure with England, his subsequent career has been a failure – the blip of FC Twente aside.
At Newcastle he’s been offered a job which his CV does not suggest he can handle, and true to form he isn’t handling it. That’s not his fault to be fair. Anyone else in his position would have taken the job on – someone with an ounce of sense would have avoided it like the plague. Still, he deserves to go, but who else will take the job?
The only person who is available (Ashley won’t pay to severe a contract of a manager in a job) who I think has the man management skills to make progress is Brendan Rogers. If anyone thinks Moyes or Benitez will save us, you are sorely mistaken.
If we leave Steve for a moment, I will pursue one more person to point the finger of blame at. The club is rotten from the bottom to the top and that sole responsibility lies with Mike Ashley.
Him spending money recently is a novel change for us I admit, that said, spending his Wonga on the areas we need to improve would be the right thing to do. The people around him are telling him who to buy, and he has done so, but through his own failures he’s been badly advised. Had he employed people who knew their stuff in the first place, the money would have been well spent improving the worst areas of the team – the defence.
Through his own repeated failures he has wasted his money on a fruitless attempt to keep Newcastle falling through the trap door once again, which is exactly where we are heading by the way. He can have no one to blame but himself when Newcastle are relegated this season and his investment flounders.
The Everton game was the perfect reminder that spending money aimlessly won’t solve our problems. Focusing on what the problems are and fixing them will make progress. Poor decision making on and off the pitch at Goodison simply highlighted how wasteful we have been in not heeding our previous warnings and exploiting the transfer window effectively.
Shelvey and Townsend looked off the pace, our third choice goalkeeper at the start of the season was the man of the match despite conceding three goals, and the man who was bought to push us forward in 2008 is the same man who is dragging us down at the back in 2016. All the while the striker bought to score the goals we crave is sat on the bench whilst the man he was brought in to effectively replace squanders our best chance of the game. If it wasn’t so desperate, it would be funny.
Moving back to Ashley and his mistakes, him giving money to a managerial failure is like giving £1,000 to a drug addict and asking them not to spend it on crack. They’ll do the thing which excites them the most rather than do the right thing for them.
Comparing Mike Ashley and Steve McClaren to drug addicts and their enablers may seem a step too far, however one of them must be taking something.
How else can you explain this sorry state of affairs…….
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